North Shore builds tough mentality

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North Shore has been a successful wrestling program for years, and that success is partly due to the environment in which head coach Michael Emmert has brought about in the maroon-lined wrestling room. Emmert has been a part of the program since his wrestling days on the mats over twenty years ago. Now, he preaches both mental and physical toughness to his group that has a solid mesh of talent.

Although North Shore High School graduated its all-time winningest high school wrestler in June, Emmert may possibly have one of North Shore’s all-time most skilled wrestlers still on the roster in Antonio George.

George, a senior, is an anomaly at 120 and 126-pounds. Last winter, George was measured at 5-foot-9. According to Emmert, though, he has hit a growth spurt that has edged him over the six-foot mark with the ability to stay at both the 120 and 126-pound weight classes — and he’s fast, really fast.

The senior has wrestled at a national level throughout the summer months and is a three-time All-County wrestler. With significant hindering injuries, he still placed fourth last year at the county meet, but Emmert thinks George hasn’t even realized where his full potential lies yet.

“He told me he had butterflies at a meet,” Emmert said. “I told him, ‘you could pin everyone at this tournament from 99 pounds to 160 pounds.’” Emmert added that George is “going to win the county championship” with such calm certainty. Emmert and his assistant coaches believe George has the ability to compete for a state championship before he takes his talents to wrestle at the University of Oklahoma in 2020.

One of George’s main partners and co-captains in the wrestling room is 120-pounder Phil D’Amico. “Phil is an absolute stud in his own right,” Emmert said. D’Amico fortunately has the ability to lock up with one of the best wrestlers the county has to offer on a daily basis to improve his game.

“We have a room full of tough, tough kids,” Emmert said of his team’s mentality. “The mental aspect is about 90 percent of this sport, and these kids have it.”

Emmert’s group this year is a bit young, but there is potential there for major growth. 106-pound Matt O’Donnell, 152-pounder Will Cinski, 160-pounder Mark Russo, 170-pounder Andrew Nowack, 220-pounder Lorenzo Recine and 285-pounder Danny Romano are all looking to settle in to their weight classes for the start of the regular season against Bethpage on Dec. 20.

“We want to get some good experience against them,” Emmert said. “It’s so early in the year still.”

The young Vikings group will have to use the mental toughness preached by Emmert to progress accordingly. Despite the team’s overall youth, Emmert is prepared for another successful season. Besides, bringing the sport of wrestling to the children of Glen Head has been Emmert’s passion for many years, but now, Emmert pointed out that he has even more of a vested interest for years to come.

“We have about seventy kids signed up in our peewee wrestling program for North Shore,” Emmert said. “Including my son, for whom it will be his first time wrestling.”